Nitrogen environments provide a safe, effective place to prevent museum objects from deterioration caused by biological factors and oxidation. The efficacy of nitrogen environments for storing sensitive organic objects was first studied at the Getty Conservation Institute between 1987 and 1989, as part of a project to develop cases for the Royal Mummy Collection in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. The Getty Conservation Institute designed, built, and tested nitrogen-filled, hermetically sealed prototype cases, and later provided technical support for local Egyptian production of the same type of cases that were used in the Egyptian Museum. Cases of the same design are now used for the display and storage of the Constitution of India at the Parliament Library in New Delhi.

During the mummy case project, a nitrogen atmosphere was successfully tested for eradicating selected insects. The Getty Conservation Institute expanded the research, investigating exposure times required to kill common museum insect pests using a nitrogen environment. Art objects were enclosed in nitrogen-filled bags fabricated from oxygen-barrier film. This proved effective in eradicating insect infestation. To improve the practicality of the method, the Institute investigated the applicability of commercially available equipment for nitrogen anoxia treatment.

Related articles in the GCI Newsletter

Oxygen-Free Museum Cases (Summer, 1998)
Nitrogen Anoxia Research (Fall, 1995)
Display Cases for the Constitution of India (Spring, 1995)

Related Scientific Research Abstracts

1.12 Air Pollution Control within Museum Display Cases by Active and Passive Strategies
1.18 Development of a Hermetically Sealed Nitrogen Atmosphere Display Case
1.22 Moisture Buffering Capability of Storage Cases

Related Getty Publications

Oxygen-Free Museum Cases by Shin Maekawa
Inert Gases in the Control of Museum Insect Pests by Charles Selwitz and Shin Maekawa

Getty Research Library
For further information on this subject, explore Getty Research Library materials in Primo Search.